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COVID-19 impacting northwest Ohio classrooms weeks after the beginning of the school year

School leaders say there could be an impact on how many days your kids go to school if there are too many people in quarantine.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — We're only a few weeks into the new school year and we've already seen changes because of COVID-19.

The number of students and staff in quarantine and isolation is going up for many districts. School leaders say there could be an impact on how many days your kids go to school if there are too many people in quarantine or isolation, and not enough staff to teach a class in person.

But there are also other factors that school leaders have to consider this year with the virus that they didn't deal with last year.

"We began this school year on an uptick," said Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler. "So we were seeing more cases beginning to happen in the community and in the schools than we had seen probably in the prior six months."

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In the third week of kids back in the classroom, Perrysburg Schools had 19 students test positive for COVID-19 and more than 130 exposed.

Hosler says numbers like these weren't seen until November of last year.

Meanwhile, Chris Lake, the superintendent at Swanton Local Schools, says the district's COVID cases are relatively low, with only one person testing positive.

"I have a handful of kids who are in quarantine because they've been exposed outside of school," Lake said. "And there's a handful of kids who are waiting on test results because they just haven't felt good."

Both superintendents are expecting numbers to increase but say the positive news is that COVID-19 isn't new. They dealt with this last year and have a system in place to help keep students in the classroom full-time. 

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Ultimately, the last thing they want to do is make drastic changes to the learning environment.

"Masking, more distancing, maybe alternating days, that begins to impact the classroom," Hosler said. "It may mean taking those kinds of steps, but we're going to try to do everything we can, with all the tools that we have before we would get to changing school schedules."

Hosler says there's no set metric to determine whether a school needs to go remote or hybrid, although staffing and the number of people at home are two big factors.

Many school districts started the year optimistic that this year would be different from last year with COVID. Each school district can make requirements based on what fits best for them, and some are learning contact tracing is more complicated.

There are numerous factors that school leaders face when it comes to COVID that weren't there last year.

This year, contact tracing is a little more difficult because there are more people in the building at a time, desks aren't spread as far, and some students are vaccinated.

All of these factors make it harder on the school nurses, principals, and staff dedicated to COVID-19.

Both superintendents say they continue to remind their families that the vaccine and wearing a mask are the best way to keep your kid in schools.